The combination of books and coffee is a familiar one to patrons of bookstores the world over, but books and pizza is a distinctly less common pairing. Enter Spanish La Pizzateca, a new shop in Madrid’s Barrio de las Letras where patrons can satisfy the hunger of both body and mind.
The brainchild of Spanish publisher ES Ediciones, La Pizzateca offers a wide range of artisanal pizzas and calzones made from natural ingredients for enjoyment in-house or to go. It’s also a bookstore, however, and it even offers specials to encourage both pursuits. One, for example — dubbed the “menú de las letras” — includes a slice of pizza and a book for just EUR 5.
La Pizzateca is intriguing not just for its innovative pairing, but also because it was conceived not by a retailer but by a book publisher, opening up a new avenue for revenue and relevance in a struggling industry. Bookstores and publishers around the globe: this one’s for you! (Related: Cookbook-only store with test kitchen and café — Publisher launches academy for aspiring writers.)
Spotted by: Leticia Pérez Prieto
Faced with an increasingly crowded market, fashion brands jostling for recognition can always rely on sky-high prices to create demand for their wares. However, French label A.P.C is taking a different approach. Although their regular collections are well respected amongst fashion aficionados, a new range of customized pre-worn jeans is blurring the traditional boundaries between second hand clothing and new fashion products.
With a new store in New York focusing primarily on their classic denim range, A.P.C are also introducing a range of pre-worn ‘Butler Jeans’ — as reported by the New York Times. Drawing on the ‘one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure’ ethos, the store will offer a new service reaching out to owners of old A.P.C jeans. Those who prefer their jeans to look new will be able to return their worn jeans and buy a new pair at cost. The old pair will then be stitched up and repaired in any way necessary, marked with the initials of the previous owner, and then sold on to customers who prefer their jeans to have a ‘worn in’ look. The name comes from a nineteenth century custom of the English aristocracy where butlers would break in their masters’ trousers in an effort to help them avoid appearing nouveau riche.
A.P.C certainly have status as a fashion label, but faced with stiff competition they may have also found a status story to get their wearers talking again. (Related: T-shirts saved with handstitched lettering & sold to new owners — From recycled leather scraps, purses with a story — One-of-a-kind kids’ clothes, locally made from reclaimed discards.)
Most internet users have probably come across reCAPTCHA at some point or other in their online travels, notable because it not only helps distinguish human website visitors from computerized bots, but it also taps the human ones to help digitize books, newspapers and old radio shows. Operating on a similar principle, Finnish indexing effort Digitalkoot now offers a series of games by which players can help fix mistakes in the indexing of old Finnish newspapers.
Digitalkoot is a joint project run by the National Library of Finland and distributed work platform Microtask that aims to index the library’s enormous archives so that they are searchable on the Internet. As in so many similar efforts, limitations on computers’ ability to recognize text causes numerous instances where human help is required. That’s where Digitalkoot’s games come in. In both Mole Hunt and Mole Bridge, human players offer solutions to problematic words, thereby helping the Digitalkoot effort make Finland’s archives more accurate and more accessible to all.
So far, more than 20,000 people have visited the Digitalkoot site, and volunteer gamers have contributed more than 85,000 minutes of their time to helping its efforts. Later this year, Digitalkoot aims to give visitors a way to help structure the documents and tag images in its initiative as well. Like-minded efforts around the globe: let the games begin! (Related: Platform adds gaming elements to any website or application — Web service uses gaming to motivate salespeople — Site turns ride-sharing into a social game — iPhone app turns your to-do list into a game.)
Spotted by: Hanne Mattinen
Eco-conscious alternatives to traditional wooden flooring typically rely upon cork or other non-hardwood materials for their sustainability. A new Dutch innovation, however, earns its green credentials by cutting floorboards in such a way as to follow the hardwood’s natural curves.
Aiming to bring to the mass market what it says has long been the domain of a few dedicated craftsmen, Bolefloor manufactures solid oak flooring with curved lengths that follow a tree’s natural growth. One result of the technique is that no two Bolefloors are alike. In addition, Bolefloor claims that their wood scanning systems, tailor-made CAD/CAM developments and innovative optimization algorithms allow more floors to be created from the same amount of wood. Bolefloor manages and tracks each board from its raw-lumber stage through to final installation. Pricing, the company says, is “not considerably more than today’s fine wood flooring.”
Bolefloor’s dealer list will be published in April; in the meantime, it’s seeking partners around the world. One to help bring to eco-minded consumers in your neck of the woods? (Related: One tree planted for each wooden watch sold — At Vermont workshop, make your own hyperlocal dinner table.)
Spotted by: Martin Poltimäe
Digital books continue to thrive thanks to Amazon’s Kindle and other such devices. However, whereas most e-books still adhere to many of the conventions of reading online, Push Pop Press is a startup that aims to do away with much of that and put multi-touch manipulation at the forefront.
Based in San Francisco, Push Pop Press is still gearing up to launch its new digital book line for iPhone and iPad. What it aims to deliver, however, are books that let readers explore photos, videos, music, maps and interactive graphics through a new physics-based multi-touch user interface. There are no status or tab bars taking up space; rather, the entire screen is filled by content, Daring Fireball reports. Users manipulate each book by swiping and pinching; to play a video, they simply tap play and it does so in place, for example. When the user zooms in or out on a video, the zooming tracks the pinching of their fingers “precisely and instantly”. In short, whereas “Kindle and iBooks seem to have the goal of reproducing what is possible in paper books,” Push Pop seeks to discover what can be done “with the idea of a ‘book’ if we eliminate the limitations of ink and paper, rather than mimic them,” the review concludes.
Push Pop’s first title will be available for iPad and iPhone later this year. One to get involved in early? (Related: Book-video hybrid delivers a new reading experience — Japanese service enables e-book creation on demand — Free e-book streaming and sharing with ad support.)
Spotted by: Jenn Hertzig
Much the way Hello Health uses technology to deliver medical services in new ways — such as video-enabled “house calls” where the patient can stay at home — so too has Seattle-based medical services provider Carena expanded its offerings beyond just in-person house calls to include virtual visits via webcam or phone.
Carena has been offering 24/7 in-person house calls for some time as a service for those whose primary care physician isn’t currently available; in that way, Carena is an alternative to emergency room services. An analysis of more than 35,000 house calls delivered that way, however, inspired the creation of a system that supports virtual house calls as well. Now, patients have the option of a medical evaluation by phone, webcam or in person, depending on their specific requirements. Carena, meanwhile, can extend the geographic reach of its services while reducing costs for clients and patients.
Does your health care business offer remote services to consumers? If not, better put such capabilities near the top of your “to-do” list. Plenty more spottings like this to come, we predict!
Spotted by: Judy McRae
In recent years social networking has become so ingrained in online culture that many users will own several different social networking profiles, sometimes with two or more profiles on the same social network designed for both business or personal use. Whoopaa is a new social network aggregator designed to bring both business and personal social networking profiles into one online space.
The new service can integrate with users’ Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, presenting them all on one site. Users can then mark these accounts as associated with either their business or personal Whoopaa profiles. Once Whoopaa has been linked up in this way, users can switch between their business and personal profiles at the click of a single button, instantly viewing all the social network activity attached to the Whoopaa profile selected — neatly arranged in one time-line. Users can send direct messages, invites and wall posts to their separate social network accounts from within the Whoopaa site, as well as sending messages directly to other members’ Whoopaa inboxes. An iPhone app is currently in development.
With the increasing importance attached to online identity, both in personal and business terms, the demand for aggregators has seen no shortage of contenders. However, for social networkers who prefer to keep these profiles separate, Whoopaa set itself apart with a neat headline feature. (Related: B2B social network connects small businesses online.)
Spotted by Sheila Wigman
Back in 2009 we covered Zehnder Communications’ augmented reality mobile app for Louisiana’s Voodoo Experience music festival, and now it looks like the New Orleans ad firm has taken its efforts to an even larger scale. Developed in partnership with local station WWL-TV, its new Experience Mardi Gras mobile app aims to keep this year’s revelers updated with the latest parade schedules, event information and related videos.
Available for both iPhone and Android, the free Experience Mardi Gras app offers users a “Parade Tracker” feature that lets them follow one major New Orleans parade each day, beginning with the Krewe of Muses on March 3 and ending with the legendary Krewe of Zulu on Fat Tuesday, March 8. The app uses Google Maps to give users the most accurate parade routes and to help them navigate the city so they can be in the right place at the right time. For those lulls before the parade arrives, the app features authentic videos of Mardi Gras events past and present. Finally, an up-to-the-minute events page lets users plan their after-parade activities.
With today’s mobile technologies, there is no longer any excuse for allowing event attendees to be lost or confused about schedules and locations. Event planners around the globe: find a developer partner of your own and get cracking! (Related: DIY platform enables home-grown iPhone apps — An iPhone app for every band — Adidas creates free iPhone guide to Berlin’s street art.)
Spotted by Blake Killian
We’ve seen many mashups with Google Maps, from virtual jogging apps to online story telling — but new website WhatWasThere aims to add a new layer of historical context to the virtual atlas.
The WhatWasThere map appears, at first glance, to be no different from any ordinary Google Map. However, closer inspection reveals numerous geo-tags which, when clicked, display photos of the tagged area from the past. The photo is accompanied by a brief description, and there is even the option to view the photo in context at street level, using Google Street view to juxtapose the image against its modern surroundings. The project is entirely user generated, and the site welcomes users with an invitation to browse the map or upload their own historical photos.
Maps and photographs are just two ways in which data can be brought to life for online users. WhatWasThere has found an enticing way of combining the two, showing that there’s still room for innovation in this crowded space!
(Related: Hotel search? Video completes the picture — Virtual jogging through Google Maps mashup —
Gas pumps that give directions.)
Spotted by Zachary Love
It’s no secret the amount of hard work and planning that it takes to transform a creative idea into a successful business, and while entrepreneurs have long been supported in countries such as the US, such assistance is not so forthcoming in developing economies. Aiming to tackle the problem, FledgeWing has just released a Hindi version of it’s support site for young Indian entrepreneurs.
Founded by NYU Stern graduates Lewis Drummond and Joshua Meyers, the platform enables users to pitch new ideas and receive feedback and input from both peers and mentors – the quality of which is regulated by a user feedback system. There is also an area dedicated to group collaboration on projects, and a page listing events which the budding entrepreneur may find useful to attend. Furthermore, the site hosts numerous case studies and articles for students to study and learn from.
As websites such as Bitsy have already identified, working in small businesses can often be a challenging experience. Services such as FledgeWing aim to tackle these challenges with a genuinely useful range of services. And by combining this functionality with a focus on the Indian market, Fledgewing’s founders could be tapping into a goldmine of potential new businesses. (Related: Daily tips for startups, distilled from books old & new.)